Last time in the last Best and Worst of NXT UK: Bomber Dave Mastiff faced Joe Coffey in a main event that led to brawling and bellowing. If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT UK, click right here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter if you want.
And now, the Best and Worst of NXT UK from August 14, 2019.
Best: Goofus Versus Gallus
So the idea here is that Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews each have to fight an individual members of Gallus to earn there way into the Tag Team Championship match at TakeOver Cardiff. If Webster and Andrews weren’t from Cardiff, it might be possible to believe that NXT UK would run this storyline only to have them lose, just to put Gallus over big as evil jerks, but the Hometown Boy factor makes it pretty obvious how things are going.
This match tries pretty hard to make you doubt it, though, and for me at least it succeeded in a few spots. Flash is one of those guys who can take a lot of punishment and just get up and try again, and that’s what this match is all about. Mark Coffey suplexes him. He catches him in a cobra clutch. He hits a full nelson slam and later a chokeslam. Generally, Flash gets manhandled and thrown around like he’s nothing, and then at the last minute, he does what guys like him do in situations like this. He catches Mark Coffey in a cradle, gets a quick pin, and gets the hell out of there, grinning with his buddy. The Mandrews/Wolfgang match is still to come, but make no mistake, these guys are going to Cardiff, and they’re going to take some punishment when they get there.
Best: The Drama Is Real
Backstage, Radzi is interviewing Toni Storm, but when he asks her about Kay Lee Ray, she completely freezes up and looks really emotional. It’s such a believably awkward moment that if this was a live show, you’d really think Toni had flubbed the interview. I’ve been here so here for this “former friends” storyline, but now Toni has me wondering if there’s more. Was Toni in love with Kay Lee? Was it ever mutual? I mean, that’s probably not the direction they’re going, at least not beyond subtext. It’s an interesting thought, though.
Later on Jordan Devlin is just about to give an interview that I know we were all waiting for with bated breath, when he’s interrupted by Piper Niven and Rhea Ripley just brawling down the hall, a path of destruction in their wake. If Piper wasn’t in street clothes, there would be no reason to think they’d ever stopped fighting since leaving Xia Brookside in the ring last week. These two women clearly don’t have the same kind of fraught, complicated connection that Toni and Kay Lee have. They just really, really hate each other. I’m here for that too. Also here for Piper Niven in a Marilyn Monroe T-shirt and a blazer, for the record.
Best: Noam Dar, Talking
When Kenny Williams versus Travis Banks is announced, I admit I’m thinking “Oh no, the two guys I have a hard time keeping straight are fighting each other, but as soon as I think that, Noam Dar’s music hits. At first it seems like we might be getting a surprise Triple Threat, or just Dar’s chaos leading to no match at all, but instead Noam walks over to the commentary table, which surprises Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness as much as anybody. Noam Dar on commentary is a gift, though, and makes this whole endeavor worthwhile. Or as Noam puts it, “Kenny Williams, dafty. Travis Banks, dafty.”
The match was fine, but Noam was the best part. At one point he was explaining to Vic about how “trousers” is what he calls what Americans call pants. Meanwhile, Kenny and Travis are putting on a really solid Face Vs Face match in the ring. Banks ultimately wins with a Kiwi Krusher, which probably means he’s the one face Noam Dar at TakeOver: Cardiff, in the match Noam keeps bragging that he’s guaranteed by his contract.
Best: The Witch Is Whack
I’m not being shady to Nina Samuels and Isla Dawn when I say that they’re probably at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to the NXT UK women’s roster. Leaving aside semi-regular guests like Candy Floss, these two, along with Killer Kelly, are the girls who are here when they’re needed, but they’re not currently in line for any big title shots or TakeOver-level feuds.
So while we’re taking a week off from the division’s big feuds, this match is a great idea, just to let Isla and Nina show off what they can do with just six minutes or so in the ring together. They’re both solid, and they’re also both, as the kids say, very extra. Nina Samuels is an overachieving theatre kid who can totally wrestle but does it out of a desire to see her name in lights. Isla Dawn is a witch, but not like a scary Sister Abigail witch. More of a Gardnerian dancing-in-circles-in-the-woods kind of witch. I’d like to see how either of them evolve when they do get more storylines to pursue.
In the meantime this is a fun match to watch. A lot of big, showy moves, a lot of taunts, a lot of back-and-forth and nearfalls on both sides, so even though Nina wins, Isla doesn’t come out looking bad at all. Hopefully we’ll see more of these two before too long.
Weird, But Sure: Villains Doing Villain Things
At the top of the show, we were promised a glimpse of WALTER training for his TakeOver match with Tyler Bate. What we got is basically the thing from an old Captain America comic where the Red Skull brings in a bunch of trained fighters dressed in Captain America costumes, just so he can murder them for fun. WALTER’s training is just him smacking the hell out of a bunch of small scruffy boys, while telling him they’re just like Tyler Bate. The camera work and music, which are really trying to make this seem like a grim German art film, cut against the comic book plotting in a fun way. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but I fave to admit it works. It also really makes me want Tyler to win, but we’ll get there when we get there.
It’s been a while now, and I’m still having a hard time coming up with a take on Ilja Dragunov beyond “That guy’s pretty weird,” but I can’t say this wasn’t fun. Weird as he might be, Ilja has amazing in-ring skills, which makes him a suitable opponent for Kassius Ohno. Ohno has size and strength, but Dragunov has speed and the “what will he do next?” factor. There’s a great moment in the match when Dragunov tries to hit a cross body but Ohno catches him without being knocked over. But then, still in Ohno’s arms, Ilja thrashes his body in such a way that it believable knocks Ohno onto his back, as if belatedly completing the original move. It’s good stuff.
I wasn’t expecting this to be Dragunov’s first loss. Remember in NXT Domestic, when Kassius Ohno’s whole thing was losing to everybody? Now he’s ending winning streaks. I think the loss was the right choice though. Winning streaks can become a burden pretty quickly, and Ohno’s been built up enough on this brand that he’s not a bad person to lose to. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two guys fight again soon. Even after this fifteen-minute match, it definitely seems like there’s more they could find to do together.
That’s all for this installment. Join me next week, when WALTER and Tyler Bate will come face to face, while The Hunt take on Imperium.